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Matt Wilson Is an "Ambassador of Good Feeling"

Photo by Steven Sussman (Litchfield Jazz Festival)


The New York Times called drummer Matt Wilson an “ambassador of good feeling.” It’s a role he takes both seriously...and not all that seriously at all. Drummers have a long history of being the cut-ups in the band and Wilson carries that tradition forward, bringing a sense of humor and adventure to the music. He’s been known to play toy drums onstage - but he’s also played with some of the most seriously talented musicians around - Charlie Haden, John Scofield...and the late Dewey Redman, who he recorded this with back in 1996.

Wilson is “Artist in Residence” at this year’s Litchfield Jazz Festival, which begins tonight and runs through Sunday on the grounds of Kent School in Kent, Connecticut...right along the banks of the Housatonic River. Wilson’s the most presented-artist at the Festival...18 times in 16 years, and he’s played a wide range of music, from far out free jazz to straight ahead. This year, he performs with his own quartet...with strings...and with the Dena DeRose Trio. He’s also teaching at the Festival’s Jazz Camp, which draws in hundreds of students to learn with Jazz masters. We caught up with him in between classes...Wilson had just finished working on a composition with some students. And we started by talking about one of his other jobs as “Artist in Residence” - leading Artist’s talks with some of the musicians taking part in the festival. Clearly, the one Wilson was looking forward to the most was with a hero of his...drummer Roy Haynes, who’ll play with his band Saturday night.

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